Decks and Patios: The Bridge to Termite Infestation?

If you have a deck or patio, chances are, there’s a lot of wood surrounding your home.

And, this being a termite-oriented website, where there’s wood, there’s often… you guessed it, termites.

Before you freak out, just because you have termites lurking in your deck doesn’t necessarily mean you have them in your home, and vice versa.

Upon first glance, unless your deck has been completely bored out by hungry termites, chances are, they’ll have plenty to do before they even think about making their next move.

But, over time, the colony can grow to the point of capacity and extend out into sub-colonies (horrifying, no?) by swarming. From there, the group moves onto other areas like you know, your home, patio covers, or other nearby structures.

Know What Damage Looks Like

Here’s the thing. Termites eat a lot. We’re talking 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while you’re sleeping, they’re eating. While you’re at work, they’re still eating. When you eat they eat.

Hard to imagine, but these little guys can cause a whole hurricane of damage in a small window of time—boring small tunnels into wood, which, little by little, add up to some major instability.

Here are the two most common types of termites, and what you can expect as far as damage is concerned:

· Drywood Termites: More common with off-ground decks, drywood termites build their colonies inside wooden structures—so, in the case of your deck, signs of damage include cracks in the deck board, piles of frass (termite waste resembling wood pellets or sawdust) or wood that looks crumbly in appearance.

· Subterranean Termites: As the name suggests, these guys hang out beneath the ground and thrive in damp soil. If you’re living in an area plagued with dampness, your deck might be threatened by the subterranean mites. Signs of an infestation may leave wood resembling water damage, complete with swelling, visible termite tunnels and even a smell not unlike mildew or mold.

Now that you’ve got some background on what you should be looking for, here are some things you can do to both protect your deck from termite damage and prevent a whole house takeover:

Paint and Seal Your Deck

Think of it as a barrier against future damage. Termites only need a small crack to gain entrance into a deck board. Applying a fresh coat of paint and sealant every year keeps pests out, and helps keep things looking nice and fresh.

Surround Your Deck with Cedar Mulch

Ideally, your deck is made from materials that are termite resistant. However, if you’re not sure, or you messed up on installation, treated mulch makes for good prevention. Easier than taking care of grass, and still pretty good looking, cedar mulch is a good alternative to pressure treated wood. It contains oils and resins that ruin the whole eating experience for termites.

Unfortunately, said saps, resins and oils toxic to termites do wear out over time, so you’ll need to replace the chips every so often, too.

Or Sand

If you’re concerned about what lies beneath, a sand barrier is a good defense against subterranean termites. Kind of like how sand makes us move slowly, termites have trouble making their signature tunnels with sand in the way, blocking them from coming up through the ground.

Ideally, your sand barrier is in place before building your deck. But, you can add sand later on to mitigate future damage, especially in areas subject to subterranean infestations.

Get Rid of Cellulose-Based Debris

Cellulose-based debris is basically just organic materials, like saw dust, wood chips, leaves and more. Get rid of any loose wood lying around and be sure to keep the area clean.

It’s That Time… Get Inspected!

While cleaning, painting and staying vigilant is key in keeping termites at bay, don’t underestimate the importance of a regular inspection to protect your home against termite damage. Much like getting a physical or taking your car to the shop, prevention is the best defense against ‘mites.

Call Best Rate Termite at 619-229-0116, and request your free termite inspection today!